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Monthly Summary – September 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – September 2009)

Monthly Summary, September 2009

Robin prepared 1/2011

As I review September notes from our previous season (2009) I am reminded of nightmares of tomato blight, my first visit to NSF and of course the satisfying feeling of starting to see an end to the season.  Now, instead of continuously plowing ahead September is a time to get some of the last of the crops in for the fall season.  It’s also the time to get greenhouses together for any winter production.  Of course, to help celebrate this time of year is the beloved NSF Tomato fight, held every beginning to mid September.  It’s an exciting month with beautiful weather, definitely one of my favorites.

Equipment 24hrs.: repaired chopper, upkeep on mower 

Administration 32hrs: pay roll, bills, accounting
Infrastructure 54hrs: Chicken shelter, weed whacking, irrigation work, fence work

Greenhouse 33hrs.: seeded trays of basil for sale, prep of greenhouse for late fall/winter production 

Composting 26hrs.: Weeded compost pile, prepped and seeded into compost bed for later fall crops, making compost tea (and spreading to field beds)   
Planting 45hrs.: (in compost pile): squash, fennel, scallions, and beets. seeded tatsoi in BGBs and cover crops in field , in Ralph’s House planted kale, beets, fennel, chard and seeded arugula

Crop Care 143hrs: Weeding, scuffle hoeing, cleaning up string and drip tape from tomato patch, mowing

Harvesting 160Hrs:

       First week: chard, kale, sunflowers, pears, tomatoes, salad mix, hay

       Second week: chard, kale, tomatoes, flowers, hay

       Third week: chard, kale, flowers, radishes, hay

       Fourth week: kale, chard, radishes, salad mix, flowers, horseradish, teas

Handling 64hrs: washing, bagging, bunching, cleaning garlic

Marketing 119hrs.:

       Hopewell:9/1 $756 9/9:$399, 9/16 $358, 9/23 $600, 9/30 $647

       West Windsor:9/4 $1200, 9/12 $950, 9/26 $1400

       Summit:9/5 $1910, 9/13 $1900, 9/27 $1600

Special Projects 23hrs: chicken shelter, talks of moving creation support, pit dug for clay oven, mushroom growing-spreading spores, splitting wood
Weather: First week: Clear weather, sunny and cool nights

Second week: clear and sunny, cool with rain at the end of the week

Third week: Sun and clouds, warm days with cold front moving in

Forth week: cloudy, server thunderstorm during the week, followed by sun

Monthly Summary – August 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by steven in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – August 2009)

Monthly Summary – August 2009
Steven Tomlinson; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 12/10

General Observations: August is filled to the brim with energy. The daily chores and ebb and flow of harvesting, washing, marketing, and replanting hit its stride with the workers. This is time that people start to feel the totality of their work. Machines and tools break, the relentless rain never gives up, and people usually make a decision whither farming is meant for them or maybe they should try their hand at something else. I love August for this reason. It is the intensity of all the seasons work magnified by the sun. The days are long and the planning for fall crops are floating around.  By the months end one feels a new beginning, but maybe that just has to do with the cycle of  school starting up for the youth and people returning from their summer adventures.
The crew at North Slope Farm dealt with a lot of rain in 2009. This lead to some delayed harvesting and radical growth of weeds made the third succession of vegetables a wash. Some markets were great; others were slow due to rain.  The organic certification audit came and went with success. This is why it is important to keep records and have everything filed correctly. The workers play a major role in the administrative tasks. Each journal entry yields important information that the workers of next year will look to for guidance. It also fills in missing information that sometimes dose not get written down if a planting extends beyond the normal work day. It also accounts for the weather and pinpoints the struggles of growing vegetables for the market.
Administration  26.5 hrs: The Organic Inspection was handled well with some notes to add the new salad spinner to our equipment list and to do annual soil testing to possibly not rotate tomatoes, or plant them in the same spot year after year. Some figures were tallied and $2550 a week should be made to hit the target gross yield. A seed order was placed for fall vegetables. A trip to Genesis Farms for a NOFA twilight meeting was made to learn about winter CSA planning.
Infrastructure 83.5 hrs: Cleaning out the box truck from the weekend market became a weekly, but much need chore.  Routinely mowing the edges of the field and diversions kept the farm in working order and clearly defined pathways for foot traffic and water runoff. The pool filter was changed and a new home was made for the chickens by attaching fencing to a greenhouse.
Greenhouse 10 hrs: Seedlings were planted and watered. The limited hours reflects the small amount of activity in the greenhouse. Mold was found on the basil in Ralph’s House.
Composting 4 hrs: One note was found about composting in the log: In vessel method for 3 days at 131*F with cover to ground is ok.
Planting 17.5 hrs: The Big Garden Beds were prepped for 2 more successions of field lettuce and 2 beds of carrots.
Crop Care 50 hrs: Weeding always plays a huge role in a vegetables success. With out using black plastic mulch to suppress weeds, time becomes a challenge. The third succession of vegetables was lost to over achieving weeds. Two rows of tomatoes were hand weeded and the rest of the beds were abandoned due to the amount of energy that had to go into it. Edges of beds were cut back by hand and everybody pitched in when time was available.
Harvesting 250 hrs: By far the most time spent this month was harvesting. Weekly harvest for the market included field lettuce, green beans, Swiss chard, kale, cucumbers, Asian pears, scallions, tomatoes and flowers. Herbs such as spearmint and lemon balm were harvested and dried for herbal tea.
Marketing: 140 hrs: Saturday market was at West Windsor, Sunday market at Summit, and Wednesday market at Hopewell. The most fruitful market was Summit, due to its location and reputation. The weather played a role in the success of people coming out and purchasing at the market. This is North Slope Farm’s main outlet for selling vegetables. MR was out for a week and people at the market were concerned for him. I filled in at the market this year at the same time and experienced the same concern among patrons. This proves that having a face for the farm means a lot to people, or that people just like MR.
Special Projects 0 hrs:

Monthly Summary – July 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by Robin in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – July 2009)

Monthly Summary – July 2009
RCM; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 11/10

General Observations: We start off this month remembering that we are in the full swing of summer, with a 100+ degree day, I thought it would be a good time to sit in the air-conditioning to do the monthly summary for July.  Last year at this time we were just coming off of one terribly rainy June and getting quite excited for the warmer, dryer conditions (ironic because this summer we are wondering when the rain will come and cool us down).  There was also dreaded news of Late Tomato Blight in neighboring farms, creating quite a challenging month.
Equipment 20.5 hours: Kabota and backtold had to have burned out belts fixed along with fan/alternator
Administration 39 hours: Monthly summary, bills, payroll, farmland assessment, quarterly return
Infrastructure 88 hours: Re-fencing and rat proofing chicken coop and run, mowing of water diversions and fields, repairs to sub main west irrigation, greenhouse exhaust fan fixed, walk in cooler door worked on
Greenhouse 27 hours: Watering, cleaning out greenhouse of seedlings and weeds and shutting down growing for the summer in prep for tea drying
Composting 19 hours: Areas prepped for food scrap drop off from Nomad Pizza, composting beds, clearing weeds from wind rows, building compost piles
Planting 54 hours:
Week 1: seeded lettuce and radishes
Week 2: beets and zinnias, summer squash, scallions, chard, peppers, flowers
Week 3: eggplants
Crop Care 115 hours: Thinning of sunflowers, stringing tomatoes, irrigation (laying tape and running), rototilling, trellis cucumbers, weeding sides of tomato beds in preparation of mulching and irrigation, ralph house clean up, weeding, weeding and more weeding: everything from tea beds to garden beds and north veg field beds.
Harvesting 339 hours:
Week 1: red and gold beets, swiss chard, field salad, heliopsis, kale, purslane, rudbeckia, summer squash, turnips, teasel, yarrow, zinnias.
Week 2: basil, red and gold beets, swiss chard, field salad, garlic, heliopsis, kale, pulled peas and trellis, rudbeckia, summer squash, yarrow, yellow dock, and zinnias.
Week 3: basil, beans, red and gold beets, Echinacea, swiss chard, field salad, kale, and summer squash.
Week 4: basil, red and gold beets, swiss chard, apples, pears, field salad, heliopsis, kale, summer squash, sunflowers, teas, cherry tomatoes, and zinnias.
Week 5: basil, red and gold beets, swiss chard, fennel, field salad, kale, radishes, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes
Handling 102 hours: Ordered a new salad spinner to increase efficiency of salad washing, washing, garlic curing and topping, topping beets, stripped teas
Marketing 144 hours:
Hopewell:7/8 $685, 7/22 $690,  incomplete logs only give a total of $1,375
West Windsor: 7/4 $1080, 7/11 $1335, 7/18 $1400, 7/25 $1350, Total = $5,165    Summit: 7/5 $1700, 7/11 $2190, 7/19 $2390, 7/26 $1720, Total = $8,000
Special Projects 4 hours: Preparing the next chicken area for rapidly growing chicks
Weather:
Week 1: Getting hot and dryer but rain still persisting and hindering work
Week 2: Finally getting some dry conditions, allowing tractor tillage to occur
Week 3: Sunny weather, hot and humid
Week 4: Rain came again with some thunder storms making it wet with cool nights
Week 5: heavy downpours lead to some power outage and poor conditions for planting, hot again

Monthly Summary – June 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by birddawg in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – June 2009)

Monthly Summary – June 2009
Samuel Joseph; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 6/18/10

General Observations: So my official one year anniversary has come and so I decided to take on the June Summary to remind myself of my first month at North Slope.  Reading the log for this monthly summary was completely different than any in the fact that every passage jogs memories into my head because I was there and apart of it.  Oddly enough one of my first tasks at North Slope was the writing of the 2008 June Summary.  So much has happened in a single year and my understanding of farming and plants has grown tremendously since that time.  If anyone remembers back to June last year, you will remember wet saturated conditions with intense thunderstorms.  Rain inhibited us from being able to plant as much as we would have liked.  June was a rough month last year, it being the busiest time, and yet rain not allowing for us to proceed with the plan.  Reminds me how much we are at the mercy of strange forces in the universe.
Equipment 4hrs: 6/2 removed starter from ford for repairs; fuel runs; 6/10 ford starter still not working; 6/17 ford running and chopper tested for cutting hay
Administration 41hrs: Payroll, errands, accounting, summaries, ordered tomato stakes, field walks, and all the while training those guilders
Infrastructure 116hrs: leaving center strip un-mowed in between BGB to promote beneficial; pool cleaning; walk-in cooler cleaned, sanitized, cooler curtain installed and turned on for full use; cutting dead trees that might fall near house; cut multiflora to widen pathway into the woods; mowing diversions, pathways, and under electric fence; general maintenance
Greenhouse 51.5hrs: cleaned out hoop house, inventoried tomato seedlings, intro to trainees about greenhouse watering particularly about solenaceous plants not liking wet leaves; cleaning and moving out to prepare for tea drying area.
Composting 25hrs: Spread on Big Garden Beds and Veg B North, cleaned up composting experiment from hoop house, sifting for seedling succession
Planting 55hrs: 6/2 finished planting tomatoes mulched and staked; 6/2 direct seeded 3 BGB with lettuce; rototill BGBs bare fallow and seed bed prep; 6/3 Sunflowers, the amount of rain inhibiting planting, 6/17 fourth succession planted into flats, Peas pulled 6/23, 6/24 corsalos planted in BGB with beans, 6/25 apple peppers in farmhouse gothic
Crop Care 42.5hrs: mulching tomatoes, irrigation, trenched tomato bed ends to help with flooded conditions, stringing tomato beds, and of course weeding (we don’t use plastic mulch so only way to control the weeds is by pulling them out).
Harvesting 220hrs:
First week: salad, kale, chard, garlic scapes, radishes, lambs quarters,
turnips, peonies
Second week: salad, kale, chard, garlic scapes, turnips, beets, peas, basil
Feverfew
Third week: salad, kale, chard, garlic scapes, beets, peas, fever few, heliopsis
rudbeckia,
Forth week: salad, kale, chard, turnips, beets, basil, scallions, summer
squash, fever few, rudbeckia, heliopsis, curley dock
Handling 60.5hrs: washing and bagging salad, washing produce, bagging tea
Marketing 79hrs:
Hopewell: 6/3 $392; 6/10 $415; 6/17* cancelled; 6/24 $340;
Total=$1,147
West Windsor: 6/6 $747; 6/13 $1,000; 6/20 $877; 6/27 $1,295;
Total=$3,919
Summit: first market 6/7 $910, 6/14 $910, 6/21 $1,560; 6/28 $1,660;
Total=$5,040
*playground construction prevented market from taking place
Special Projects 2hrs: chicken tractor, baby chick area in shoop prepared, chicks arrived 6/12, solar dehydrator drying herbs
Weather:
First week: Scattered Thunder storms, hard rain, heavy rain over night, Rainy
and cold
Second week: Rain, heavy showers, cloudy, saturated conditions, hot and
humid, severe rain storms,
Third week: Hot and humid, rain at night, rain, saturated conditions, Sunny
and hot
Forth week: Cloudy, Sunny and hot, extremely hot, 90+ degrees

Monthly Summary – May 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – May 2009)

Monthly Summary – May 2009
MikeR; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 1/5/11

General Observations:Ah, May, a month filled with activity, spurred on by the awakening power of the Living Earth!  Heavy rain noted thru first half of month, drying by end. Greenhouse activity is winding up by end of the month, so major planting is being done….  CropCare is looming large as the plantings require attention, the opportunistic native and invasive flora germinate, grow and seed and all the tools and materials have either come to hand or been ordered or rebuilt.  The log reflects the inscriptions of multiple guilders and some communication occurs, notes to MR (Farm Manager) from Element Managers…  Notations in ‘log,’ by MR, to capture true cost estimates of activity.
Administration 45 worker hours(hrs): Crew including FarmMngr (MR), HK, BK, BD, JA, SJ, CH.  SJ and JA starting the season as our 1st year Trainees, BD as a 2nd year, BK and HK as 3rd Years and CH parttime laborer.  MR accepts invitation to address the State Association of Environmental Commissions, at a meeting in Lambertville.  Scrolling a mix of farm photos, MR described North Slope Farm and extrapolated the relevance of our Farm to Environmental Consciousness.  Market registration deadlines!!  Need to pay registration fees, file paperwork and ensure up to date Liability Insurance covering the hosts of Market venues.  Late start, end of May for SJ and general introductions to the farm seemed to suffer from entering at such a busy time.  Note to self – try to get workers in place early, to allow time for basic introductions to the Elements and the standard routine before the heavier expectations of all Elements kick in.  Basic requirement of Training: All Trainees receive formal introductions to the “‘Elements’ of our Operation.”  Formal introduction begins with the Web Site “Training Categories”, review of specific Element Folders, and electronic Files.  This is a required first step for the actual Training to occur.  The Training is defined as at least one opportunity to attempt to accomplish a specific task or set of tasks.  Quality Training is a function of the Trainee’s willingness to process and publish their experience and insight.  Noted here for its relevance to “Training” – Discussion at end of month about a complete reversal of Priorities, as expressed by MR.  The reversal was from an expressed priority of Direct Seeding Salad, to an expressed Priority of Transplanting the Tomatoes, two very different processes.  MR discussed significant environmental and astrological factors that determined the change in Priorities (5/28).
Equipment; 51.5 hrs: Kabota mower, JD loader and Ford Tractor all got a work out, logging the most hours for the season (about 10 each).  IH 140, our bedshaper, also pulled for one of two heavy months, May and July (4hrs each).  No one on crew interested (some opposed) to equipment so little training, simply observation and brief intro for 1st years.  Weedwacker and walking mower logged the most hours in the season, dealing with fence and Big Garden Bed (BGB) cleanup.  JD and Ford engaged in Composting and Primary tillage for Tomatoes (“conditions fairly rough, reg. additional tillage preplanting”) in VegAs.  Spring tune up on Kabota, by BD, sharpening blades for mowing perimeters, diversions and waterways.
Infrastructure 92 hrs: BD chose this as his focus, and tackled mower maintenance, fence repair and mowing diversions.  1st mowing 5/14 took 3 hrs, only one pass around the perimeter thou.  Second mowing 5/29 took three hours just to complete two (thorough) passes around perimeter.  Noted in log was inability of mower to handle the previously unmowed pass.  Map for mowing in Infrastructure file.  Standard procedure (time permitting) is a minimum of double passes of areas to be maintained.  This includes the perimeters of all the productive fields, in some cases, sandwiching a fenceline between the passes.  This is a significant cost to the farm in labor, equipment and management that does not generate income.  The mowing of diversions are required, to maintain their designed intent, and where additional tasks can be integrated, like managing a fenceline, the value of the cost improves.  The layout of the farm is such that the managed diversions and waterways also serve as access lanes for various production areas.  Heavy rain and saturated conditions in early May encouraged a formal introduction into Waterways and the crew completed the day in the “Thicket” seeking to reduce channeling in a surface water runoff retention area.  BD was tasked with managing the Special Project – Poultry, daily chores, egg collection and weekly pasture moves.  MR helped by premowing pasture fence lines before BD would move the girls, and general chores.  BD received training on Ford, primary tillage, discing the 579 field for fallow period, pre garlic planting this fall.
Greenhouse 85 hrs: Positive log about the good feeling after getting the “potting on” done, thinning the last round of seedlings and organizing the greenhouse as plants are cycled out.  5/5 and 5/12, Tomatoes are potted on.  Notes of preparing customer special orders, and I can remember hounding HK whose Element Focus this is, to keep good notes, and develop a good system..!!  It’s a struggle to come up with a system that anyone will use and the discussions with the Greenhouse Manager are always filled with detail and responsibilities!  (HK’s Summary’s were lost in SiteCrash, Arghh!)  We still are using her Excell templates though, master copies stored in Documents; NorthSlopeFarm; Greenhouse Folder.  After a rough year in the greenhouse in 2008, HK expressed strong confidence and pride in her work, and the farm benefited!
Composting 71 hrs: BK has chosen this Element for his focus and there is much discussion about management, breakdown requirements and management of composting facilities.  BK is uninterested in the use of mechanical equipment, and BK and MR grapple with the difficulty of managing the massive bulk of compost materials and an aversion to combustion engines!  We focused on small batches of compost in contained bins, and stressed the importance and methods of monitoring compost batches for moisture, temperature, composting progress and problems.  (Summaries published by BK for 2009 lost in Webcrash).  BK’s personal focus was mycelium and he was able to make observations about changing populations of fungi in his experimental compost batches.  This compost monitoring was extended to track the composting regimen required by the NJDA organic certification program.  We are forced to “recompost” compost purchased from none certified organic suppliers, or treat it with the same restrictions as manure.  As of 2011 the regimen has been adjusted to loosen turning time requirements.  We found it difficult to achieve the requirements due to compost already being past its prime “heating” stage.  Certified organic compost suppliers are few, this is a place for new business ventures – production, distribution and application.  47 cubic yards reportedly spread, all by hand, for 2nd vegetable succession (15 field beds), 2 (BGBs) and tomatoes (4 beds).  This rate is higher than usual because we applied heavy layer of leaf-compost on tomatoes, to serve as mulch, more than soil amendment.  On average we estimate 1.5 cubic yards per Field Bed or BGB (~400sq ft), though in practice it is probably less.  For planning purposes, we should have 30 cyds on hand for each of our production plots – Minimum.  This number needs improved tracking and assessment.  Also of note, MR fielded inquiry from Manure Hauler looking for place to dump.  MR explained significance of NJDA Manure Handling Regulations and associated cost to receive; hauler was incredulous and did not deliver.
Planting 88 hrs: Finally on 5/12 soil noted as “drying enough for planting.”  Push in end of month to get second succession veggies planted (5/21), Tomatoes (5/28) as well as an assortment of specialty herbs, Lemon Verbena, Balm and Anise Hyssop.  Training included the transfer of information from planning documents (Crop Plan), to active form – ‘Prepare Field Planting Form’.  The Field Planting Form is a working document that starts with a plan, is adjusted by seedlings or seed actually on hand, provides for notes about # of seedlings to field and location/details of planting.  These records are the basis for detailed understanding of the seasons activity as well as data for season summaries.  Training also included an introduction for the 1st years in the use of our IH140 to prepare the field beds for planting.  Bedshaping, cutting a furrow for deep penetration of compost, application of compost, bedshaping and furrowing again, planting our large Tomato seedlings, then heavy mulch on bed tops, around plants.  Job finished just as misty, wet weather settled in on us again.  This tomato patch was a great example of good crew flow and cooperation (too bad about the East Coast Blight later…).  Clover seed was spread over our garlic patch (5/19) in an effort to reduce the need for tillage and reseeding after harvest at rate of 30#/acre – good establishment, probably due to wet season.
CropCare 86 hrs: These notes read as though we were not really prepared for cropcare and it took us this month to come to grips with it.  Irrigation was back to the farm manager, not having a trainee focused on it and MR let it slip at first.  I remember being conscious of the need for a trainer at this point because the farm manager cannot do both jobs, detailed task management and training.  Ultimately, the goal will be to have 2nd and 3rd years handling crop care with Manager oversight and introductions for 1st years, but there will always be times when everyone’s focus takes them away from basic tasks, rather than to them.  Because of this awareness, and commitment to encouraging trainees to “follow their hearts,” the basic production operations should always be maintained as manageable as possible.  Perennial bed weeding is noted, with a $100 per bed cost assessment for spring tune-up.  Crabgrass invasion into BGB’s and related investment of time for hand pulling.  Weeding and mowing in permanent beds all happen late and are more difficult than when addressed earlier.  Mowing of BGBs should be done by early May at Latest!  Peas trellised 5/15.
Harvesting 62 hrs: All the greens until 5/22, lettuce, kale, chard, spinach were from our Greenhouses, ‘in-gound’ and ‘tabletop.’  Green garlic harvested from the field, with radishes, peonies and salad mix from BGB’s by end of month.  Nice feature of greenhouse greens being very clean.
Handling 8.5 hrs: Not many hours due to greenhouse harvests, probably reflects just a few markets with green garlic, radishes and Field Salad.  The washing area did not get a thorough post winter cleanup until end of the month, at which time Walk-in cooler was completely scrubbed down and power washed for first time in many years.
Marketing 65 hrs: West Windsor Community Farmers Market started 5/18 which will boost income from our otherwise sole market in Hopewell.  Low volume production on our end, though seedlings are doing well and additional products like strawberries and asparagus available from Zone 7 (local produce distributor), as well as the apple products from Solebury Orchards.  Gross market receipts for the month $3,400.  With five trainees working full time MR very conscious of the need to Boost our early season income, stimulating commitment to finally plant strawberries and asparagus (in 2010).
Special Projects  3 hrs: Poultry is being covered under Infrastructure as part of BD’s focus.  BK is working on integrating his interest in Fungi into NSF systems, inoculating woodchips and establishing Mycelium filtration of Barnyard surface water runoff.  MR coppicing hybrid willows, hoping to establish insight into sustainable management of perennial crop.  The willows were assessed for biomass yield – 3 cubic yards woodchips from the branches of 4 eight year old trunks.  The trunks were kept for use as timber.  The observation was made later that the unused trunks all vigorously sprouted, and rooted.  There may be real potential for use of long logs in stabilizing eroded slopes and other conservation measures that might yield harvestable crops.  Willow assessment ongoing.

Monthly Summary – April 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by steven in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – April 2009)

Monthly Summary – April 2009
Steven Tomlinson; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 4/28/10

General Observations:
April is an exciting time of year. Spring is showing signs of potential growth and the weather is unpredictable, from cold snaps to heat waves. Seeding and following the crop plan worked out months before become the most important tasks. Cleaning up perennial beds and feeding compost to plants marks the beginning of the growing season. Tractors are waking up and getting ready to enter the fields as soon as the weather allows. It is a time of awakening, through work, the weather, and the soil.
Administration 49 Hours: Setting up new employees in the system, payroll, and placing new seed orders started off April. “Surface Water Drainage System” is broken down to: responsibility – manage drainage with out erosion, production requirement – drain production area, related regiment – production areas need water during dry times, long term – catch drainage for later use. April is Surface Water Drainage month.
Infrastructure 59 Hours: Repaired water lines and getting the greenhouses into shape reflect the farm starting to wake up from winter. A broken market tent was also fixed.
Greenhouse 130 Hours: The temperature went from freezing to a heat wave! 4/2 – first succession of seedlings planted. A trip to Russell Garden yielded some herb plants and inspiration for greenhouse set up. Watering, planting, and temperature control through venting took time and consideration. Watering the greenhouse took 2 hours a day by the end of the month. Mice damage to seedlings persisted.
Composting 93 Hours: Piles were built with added nitrogen in one pile and mycelium in another pile for future investigation. To break down leaves add 1.5# of nitrogen per 1 cubic yard of leaves. The manure spreader broke and composting was done with a trailer attached to an ATV and spread with shovels by hand.
Planting 33 Hours: Fertilizer (Fertrell 5-1-1) was applied to beds that will have perennial flowers and apple trees. The first succession of vegetables were planted which included chard, kale, beets, scallions, and radishes. A lettuce variety trial was also planted with notes on which variety grew the best.
Crop Care 74 Hours: Chisel plowing and rototilling prepared the fields for planting. Weeding and mulching perennials became a priority.  By the end of the month the peas needed trellising.
Harvesting 23 Hours: Scallions that were over wintered in farmhouse gothic were harvested before they went to flower. This is an interesting time to harvest because new seedlings are growing while the few plants that hung on throughout the winter are still able to make it to market.
Marketing  51 Hours: Herbal tea was highlighted at the market with samples of brewed, hot, fresh, delicious tea. A new marketing layout was discussed, which is always important to have in dialogue with the manager and workers. Displays should be dynamic and kept to look fresh.
Special Projects 9 Hours: MR gave a soil structure workshop for SAITA. At the workshop is where I first visited North Slope Farm, however I was working at another farm at the time. I appreciated the charm of North Slope and liked the way MR presented information. It is important to open up your farm and give back to the community of farmers.

Monthly Summary – March 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – March 2009)

Monthly Summary – March 2009
MikeR; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 12/10

General Observations: Crew included MR, CH, HK and BK for a total of 250 worker hours, or “about part time.”  Income from winter markets $825 – cost of goods sold.  Farm Manager (FmMngr) needs to be setting good example for Third Year Trainees, whose responsibilities are quickly building, they are required to post a “Start-Up Summary” for their Element Focus.  HK and BK are taking on Greenhouse and Compost Elements respectively.
Administration 79 hrs: Organic Certification Inspection was first thing 3/1.  FmMngr focused on getting started on the right foot with web site, pushing to get postings up and in a timely manner.  Schedule has Mngr working in mornings but not in afternoons so focus on getting administrative duties well established before season becomes hectic!  Determination for Third Year Trainees, for their chosen element they must; Publish a ‘Start-Up Report’, Observe and Record daily Management and Data Collection, Publish Mid Season News and items of interest, and Publish a ‘Season Summary’.  Mngr put off seed order until finally placing it 3/24!  Completed accounting for 2008 in order to prepare taxes.  Responding to Trainee Inquiries, trying to set standard practice, concerned to set fair and focused criteria for selection.  Committed to hiring two First Year Trainees each season.  3 Strong candidates, Final two, SJ and JA stop by for visits and interviews.  SOP for handling applications, verbally make contact with applicant to complete 1st page of application (link) and be sure everything is “clear.”  Establish order of eligibility and respond by set date to hire, in this case 3/20.
Infrastructure 24.5 hrs: Snow covering the ground still so our tracks become well trodden, driveway becomes mushy and muddy parts of garden paths need boards to facilitate wheel barrowing.  Scraped lane with JD2240, ensuring slope to drain, lay landscape fabric and layer of crushed stone.  Created sandbox, and kids play area between Willows and FarmHouse Gardens.  Main driveway asphalt destroyed by compost delivery, truck maneuvering, unable to get 48’ trailer over ditch and around corners.  Mowing possible along ditch to knock back MultiFlora Rose and enable us to manage regrowth, selecting for desired species.  Note on 3/26 “Infra has a lot of work to do – general repairs to long term weathering and acute repairs to H20 System, Refrigeration units and Equipment!”
Greenhouse 44 hrs: 27 varieties of flowers, herbs and vegetable were started in March.  Discussions with Greenhouse Mngr (HK) about how to communicate plant needs to Greenhouse production.  Decided to treat Greenhouse like independent operation to which the Fm Mngr places a seedling order for Sales, Various Successions of Flowers and Vegetables and Special Orders for wholesale accounts.  Worked out basic format for Greenhouse records to allow best tracking with least redundancy.  HK resecured some outside seams and edges of seedling greenhouse, stapling strips of recycled drip tape along edges of plastic.  Also leveled floor and mixed gravel and sand to seal edges of floor that had settled.  HK posted GreenHouse Start-Up.  3/6 planted 1 tabletop each of Mizuna, Arugula and Lettuce. (Photo Set)  Also planted Chard in Ralph’s House.
Composting 22.5 hrs: Many discussions with Cmpst Mngr (BK), regarding access for trucks, rationale for windrows and special projects for him to explore composting in more detail.  A lot of sifting for filling TableTop production needs but also preparing for seedling starts.  Problem with trying to sift damp compost – need to cover compost to be sifted!!  FrmMngr reviewed compost log with BK and established new one for 2009.  Fired up JD Loader and Ford with big trailer for composting the beds for Peas.
Planting 31 hrs: Time spent on preparing seed order, handling seed which was received with usual speed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  Also direct seeded Peas in Farmhouse Gothic beds (no plastic yet) on 3/25.  Planted Chard in Ralph’s House otherwise all the planting was for seedlings.
CropCare 11.5 hrs: Weeding of crops growing in Ralph’s House, including notes from CH about harvesting chick weed from between scallions – trim growth but allow plant to regrow, out competing other weeds.  Irrigation also in Ralph’s House, led to some flooding.  The topic of how the beds handle the watering shows itself as worthy of more study.  Sometimes it seemed like the beds weren’t absorbing the water and it just looked like collected water in pathways was a flood.  Importance of level beds.
Harvesting 3 hrs: Little is noted, harvests from TableTop Greens.  (photo).
Handling ? hrs: Continued bagging of specialty herbs for Winter and Hopewell Markets.
Marketing 32 hrs: One Winter Market at Tres Piani with Herbs and Eggs and Four Hopewell Markets.  Starting to purchase items from Zone 7 for resale.  Sales for March $825.
Special Projects 2 hrs: Finally got to work on Coppicing my hybrid Willows.  Exploring the yield of willows, and type of branches to harvest, ie two year old poles or four year old trunks…  (photo Set).  Some discussion of Cornell harvesting willow for biomas.

Monthly Summary – January and Febuary 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – January and Febuary 2009)

Monthly Summary – January and February, 2009
MikeR; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 12/3/10

General Observations: In order to remember the feeling of this time period I delved backwards into the Farm Log from December ’08.  2008 was the season which culminated in the graduation of North Slope Farm’s first “’JourneyWoman’ Steward”.  She is known on this website as Casey (CH), and her Third Season Focus was ‘Market Garden Manager’.  Postings were lost in a “virtual fire” (2010) but the records of production are testament to her accomplishment!  Needless to say it was a heady time for me, as Farm Manager, because CH (Casey) had agreed to serve as the pathfinder for our Training Program, and not only had we all survived, but there was a general feeling of excitement and opportunity at the farm.  Two trainees, beginning their third years for 2009, were moving into the FarmHouse, HK and BK.  BD had signed on as a 2nd yr trainee and we were committed to hiring two first year trainees.
Winter settling in, I remember being very conscious how much work there was, to fully prepare summaries and records.  The log shows strong statements of “minimums” and “requirements”.  Also apparent is the need for establishing baseline format for our record keeping.  All in all, the sense is one of success, with the acute need for “tightening up the ship.”
Chickens are now a part of the Farm Chores again, the ’08 Girls, and the reality of year round operation means chores happen every day.  Heavy snowfall on Feb. 4.  Winter is a quiet time though, dominated by the wind outside, a cold office and seeking rest and comfort after dark.
Equipment ? hrs; Pulled trees from falling on power lines after wind storm, JD2240.
Administration ? hrs; Published 2007 annual Summaries to website…  Submitted to Workers Compensation Payroll Audit.  Required documentation; Payroll records, Qtrly reports, names and amts paid to independent contractors and Federal Tax Return….  Filed employee taxes – New Jersey requires businesses to file employee taxes electronically.  Thankfully their system is easy to work with and payment can be as simple as paying with a credit card.  E-Filing with the IRS was a bit more complicated and we ended up with a standard check in the mail.  The E-Filing of W3 and W2’s was straightforward and accomplished by early February (Late).  Deadline for filing annual IRS form 943 is Feb 1.  NJ State Annual Reconciliation of Taxes due by end of February, though the Fourth Quarterly report is due Jan. 30.  Standard procedures for filing were updated, with instructions filed in Farm Managers desk, Filing Employee Taxes.  Corresponding adjustments and improvements made in standard employee tax records.  Standard forms saved in Admin Folder, Human Resources, Employee Records…  Spoke at Princeton Public Library, on panel for the “PPL Environmental Film Festival”, on Organic Farming increase in interest and Markets…  Met with HK to discuss access to greenhouse space for home consumption – designated one bed in Ralph’s House, to be cleared by May…  Met with Landscape Architecture class from Rutgers University.  Discussed Organic Practices, Marketing, and Viability related to their design projects for the Cream Ridge Research Facility….  Met with neighboring Farm owner to discuss small farm operations and viability…  On Feb 24, log notes “powerfully emotional state” – preparing for the “first day of the season” – conclusion: “Importance of Simple Structure to Facilitate Engagement.”  Learning Through Opportunity, Opportunity Through Investment, and Structure to Encourage Investment…  Additional items of note; signed Solar Grant applications through Simpson Electric and completed 3 year Training for WIC/Farmers Market Nutrition Program in order to be allowed to accept FMNP checks for fresh produce.
Infrastructure ? hrs: Chicken Chores require daily water checks, food service, bedding changes, egg collection, snow shoveling and security.  Trainees living in the farmhouse for the winter provided resident helpers.  Electricity to office for computer and space heater, Greenhouse heated in February, though farm water still Off.  Attempted to turn water system on for greenhouse, and blew out frozen “elbow” in wall. Until real need (we’ll repair), we use backup water supply from FarmHouse. Heavy snow noted in early Feb and large Cedars knocked down by wind storms mid month.  Fielded inquiries from local contractor regarding, in part, drop off of woodchips.  Established stockpiling area off north edge of farmhouse parking lot.  BK has expressed interest in woodchips as resource for mushroom propagation and managing the delivery and stockpiling remains an important responsibility.
Greenhouse ? hrs: February 1 ‘Seedling Gothic’ or GH#1, our only heated greenhouse was turned on for a foray into the production of “TableTop Greens”.  (Photos)  1/3 of the greenhouse was partitioned with a sheet of plastic to reduce air volume to be heated.  The initial planting was 6 bread trays, lined and filled with compost.  I did not like the bread trays, too much edge.  Additionally I prepared 2 of our tables, flipped over, lined and filled with compost.  Each table top had three sections, 10sq ft each.  Rough estimates for Arugula and Mizuna – 35 days yielded 1.5-2 pounds per 10sqft (1/4 oz seed).  Lettuce – 45 days yielded 2 pounds per 10sqft (1 oz seed) (later test yielded 3.4#).  Propane use for this 375sqft space; tanks dropped from 40% to 30% in three days.  20% loss over 6 days.  Refilled by Amerigas, 158gallons from <20% to 60%, then 10% (est. 17gallons) was burned over the next 16 days: Propane consumption ranged from 5.6 gallons to 1+gallons per day for heating 375sqft of plastic covered greenhouse.  Estimated potential yield; lettuce 36 #’s in 45 days.  Rough estimate wholesale value: $13-$15/pound, assuming cold weather, “expensive propane” and about $50 for labor.  Planting, watered 5-6 times, harvest.  Figure $18/ pound wholesale if we want to make money without being forced into massive scale production.  Note high potential for value from local sources of energy for heat.  This is why I encourage Municipal planners to seek to connect commercial greenhouse operations to residential and industrial clusters and communities – waste water carries massive investment of energy that can be utilized to reduce greenhouse heating and cooling costs – a massive incentive for Agricultural Enterprise!!
Composting ? hrs: Finished leaf mulch composting of Garlic Crop in VegAn Field.  Sifted compost and filled production areas for TableTop Greens – used approx 2 cubic yards for 90sgft.  Experience suggests we could have used far less, but to apply to equation above figure 3.75cyds sifted compost for our 375sqft, or an estimated value of $55.
Planting ? hrs:  Planted TableTop Greens Feb 2.  We also had one in ground production greenhouse (unheated) at the time called Ralph’s House and direct seeded spinach, arugula and lettuce on Feb 27, ready for harvest by mid April (photo).
CropCare ? hrs: Watering and management, including remay over TableTop Greens.
Harvesting ? hrs: Nothing Logged
Handling ? hrs: Bagged Speciality Herbs for Winter Markets: Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Spearmint, Stinging Nettle and Mexican Sage.
Marketing ? hrs: One Hopewell Market and two Slow Food Winter Markets, primarily selling our herbs, giving tastes and talking it up.  Nettles sell best of the batch!
Special Projects ? hrs: Chickens, Winter Greens and Training Program are certain.  BK set the topic for the season onto Mycelium and “growing mushrooms”.  The farm manager also focuses on identifying areas for independent projects, CH, BK and HK all are eager to have a “garden of their own!”